The pain was unbearable. I had no idea what happened when the heavy luggage went over my foot, but I knew it was nearly impossible to walk.
In the emergency room, the doctor said I broke a bone in my foot, and asked whether I’d been taking calcium and vitamin D. I hadn’t.
Shortly after that visit, I had a bone density screening and the results said I had osteopenia, a risky condition leading to osteoporosis.
That small and excruciatingly painful bone break changed how I lived. I could not imagine a future with brittle bones or ever breaking a bone again. Hopefully, you can benefit from my experience and find out whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis.
As it turns out, May (October in Canada) is national Osteoporosis Month, so it’s the perfect time to learn more, have a bone density screening, to get your bones in shape with exercise, and make sure you have the right vitamin D levels (experts recommend 2000-7000 IU Vitamin D per day).
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis means porous bone. When looking at a bone under a microscope it looks like a honeycomb, and with osteoporosis, spaces and holes in the bone are much larger than in a healthy bone.
What Does Osteoporosis Do?
Osteoporosis is a condition which weakens your bones and increases your risk for sudden fractures. You lose bone mass and even the smallest jolt such as a sneeze can break a bone in some cases. Osteoporosis can sneak up on you too, and progress even without symptoms, which is all the more reason to get tested regularly. The National Osteoporosis Foundation says that 10 million people in the U.S. have Osteoporosis and 34 million more are at risk.
How Do You Detect Osteoporosis?
To begin, have your height checked every year, without shoes on beginning at age 50. Losing height is one of the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Next, your doctor will recommend a bone density scan of the hip and spine. This is the only test that can detect osteoporosis before a bone breaks. Experts recommend this test beginning at age 30.
Should your bone density scan show you have osteopenia, which is pre-osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend having a FRAX, which can predict whether you will break a bone in the next 10 years. This test also helps doctors decide whether to provide medication.
Another important test is Vitamin D. You can measure both your hormone levels and Vitamin D with the Canary Club AdvancedPlus Profile
Are You At Risk For Osteoporosis?
Age: People over 50 are much more likely to develop osteoporosis, and bone mass declines after age 30. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you’ll get osteoporosis, but you’re more at risk as you age.
Your Gender: The National Institutes of Health say more than 10 million people suffer from osteoporosis and 80% are women. One out of two women and one in four men in the United States will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Body Type and Weight: If you’re a smaller, thinner woman, you’re at greater risk for osteoporosis. The same is true for men.
Family History: If your father or mother had osteoporosis, you’re more likely to develop the disease.
Ethnicity: White and Asian women are at risk for osteoporosis while Black and Hispanic women get this disease less often.
Low Estrogen and Low Testosterone: If you’re a woman and have low estrogen due to menopause or missing periods you’re more likely to develop osteoporosis. Men with low testosterone are at higher risk for osteoporosis.
You can easily check your estrogen or testosterone with the Canary Club’s Advanced Plus test. (Good for Men too) This also tests your vitamin D levels which are crucial to your bone health.
Use of certain medications: Check your prescriptions. Some may put you at higher risk for osteoporosis, like steroids such as prednisone.
Your Activity Levels: The less exercise you get at any age, the more likely you are to get osteoporosis. You are at also at increased risk If you’re on bed rest, or have not been active for a long period of time.
Anxiety: Too much stress can elevate your risk of osteoporosis. Remember, stress comes in all shapes and sizes and it’s good to check your cortisol levels on an annual basis.
Drinking and Smoking: Smoking and too much alcohol consumption add to your risk factors for osteoporosis. Vitamin D Levels. Low circulating vitamin d levels lead to softening and weakening of the bones.
The good news is you can measure your vitamin D levels, along with your hormone levels in one easy home test. With good care, and excellent screening you can reduce your risk for osteoporosis.
Research: Jennifer Cebulak
National Institutes of Health
Life Extension Foundation
National Osteoporosis Foundation